I have spent some time recently pondering many things. I have pondered the meaning of love, true love, godly love, lasting love.
And during this pondering I was reminded of the Parable in Luke 15:11-32 concerning the Prodigal Son.
I have heard many messages concerning this Parable. I have heard messages that centered around the younger son who took his inheritance and squandered it and came to find himself literally living among the pigs where he remembered how it was at home and decided to make his way back.
I have heard messages about the older brother who stayed behind all those years and worked only to have his younger brother come back and be celebrated even after his poor choices.
And, I have heard messages about the father that was watching and waiting for his son to come home.
It is that aspect that has been rolling around in my head lately.
The Bible says that, "But while he was still a
long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for
him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (verse 20)
There is a love that a true parent (father or mother) has for their child that goes beyond any realm of love that is understood, only to be likened to the love of God for us. It is this love that causes a father to watch for a son that has left all that he has known and been taught and waste all that he has been given. It is this love that never lets that longing for that child leave.
Now, I know those times were much different than where we are today. But, I can't help but wonder what that father would have done today.
I know of those that see one leave the fold and as far as they are concerned that person no longer exists. They are basically shunned. But, can a father turn off that great love for his child? He may not agree, he may not support, but would love disappear?
I thought about that father all of those years ago wondering where his son was, if he was okay, and if he even survived. And I thought about him longing to see him, longing to hold him in his arms, and longing to tell him he loved him once again.
In today's times I imagined that father sending little text messages, "Hey son. I just wanted you to know you were on my mind. I love you. I'm praying for you."
I thought of him phoning and getting voice mail. "It's Dad. I just wanted to check in on you. It was good to hear your voice, even if it was just a recording. I love you. I hope to hear from you soon."
Maybe he would send an email just to let him know how everyone was doing, or even a picture from home to remind him of where he came from.
And, I thought of that father on that day when he looked out and saw his son coming toward home, even though he still had a ways to go, and I thought of his greeting for that son.
When he greeted him he had no idea why the son was there. He didn't know if he was just passing by, if he were there for a short time, or if he was there for forever. He had no idea if that son had come back to ask for more so he could once again go out into the world and live a life separate from him.
All he knew was his son was coming toward home, and that was a cause to celebrate. He didn't rush to him and condemn him for leaving. He let his love and his excitement show and welcomed him back home as his son.
Because, you see, the son knew all he had lost. He knew just how far that he had gone and just how low he was. The father wasn't there to witness his time rolling around with the pigs, but no doubt he could still smell the stench. And yet, he was filled with compassion for his son, and he wrapped his arms around him and kissed him giving the son no indication he could even tell where he had been.
He didn't have to remind him of where he had been or what he had lost, the son was well aware of that. He simply reminded him how loved he was, whether it was for an hour, a day, or forever, that son that may as well have been dead had come home where he belonged.
It may have been the things that he had left behind that drew him back to his father's house, but it was the love of his father that kept him there and encouraged him to wash the filth of the world off and resume his rightful place back at home with the family who loved him.
As a mother I can really identify with this father. My children are not perfect, but neither is their mother. I cannot imagine my love being conditional on their circumstances. I cannot imagine my love being conditional, period.
Do I always agree with what they do or where they are? No. Do I support them in things I don't agree with? No.
Do I love them because they are mine? Yes. Unquestionably.
This is a given with me because there is a bond that goes beyond any other relational bond there with my children. But, that unconditional love is harder to exhibit to others at times.
And, I have noted during my present struggle it is harder to feel when you are the one trying to get back home. When you are in the distance walking toward your Father's house it feels more like the older brother is there to greet you at the door when you arrive than the Father who loves you beyond reason and who rejoices at any progress you are making to find your way back to His arms.
I don't know exactly how to close this out. I have nothing witty or profound to say here except think. When you have thrown away everything you have and found yourself having to return to that place where you remember safety and love and support, think about what would bring you to that decision and how it would feel to have to come back to a place where you once had so much and now you are broke, and hungry, and dirty and stained. Think about how different this Parable would have ended if the father had reacted as many of you have when that one that has been as one dead has returned.
That's all I ask.
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.